Safety researcher Hoar dead at 56

WASHINGTON — Ralph Hoar, a colorful and well-known figure in automotive safety circles for 30 years, died Sept. 21 of complications from prostate cancer. He was 56.

Hoar began his career at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 1969. Later he became a lobbyist for airbags and served as a consultant to institutions such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and to news media companies.

In 1989 he founded Ralph Hoar & Associates in Arlington, Va., which specialized in providing research help to trial lawyers, often in lawsuits against automakers.

Hoar repositioned the business from a research firm for attorneys to a product safety resource for consumers in 1996 with the launch of Safetyforum Research and Safetyforum.com. He said he wanted "to harness the power of the Internet for a safer, saner world."

Typical of his biting wit, he posted on Safetyforum.com the names of government officials who went to work for companies they previously had regulated. He called it "The Hoar List."

Safetyforum.com Executive Director Lee Jones said employees plan to carry on with Hoar's work.

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